• More brands are adding Amazon Pay, which they view as a means to build trust with shoppers. Amazon Pay allows these companies—mostly smaller, digitally-native vendors—to reduce checkouts times for shoppers, as well as adapt to the rise in mobile payments. They also benefit from Amazon’s reputation as a retailer that acts in the interest of the consumer over all else. But there’s one caveat: Utilizing Amazon Pay unavoidably provides Amazon with more consumer data from the brand’s transactions, which it will be able to apply to its own retail strategy.
  • Amazon will launch its own grocery store, whose lower price point and wider range of suppliers will help it differentiate from Whole Foods. The grocery store concept is scheduled to launch in late 2019 or 2020 in Los Angeles—the company has signed some leases, but is also considering buying regional grocery chains whose storefronts will help jumpstart the grocery concept. It’s not yet clear whether Amazon Go’s cashierless tech will be applied to these stores, or how Amazon’s growing roster of private-label brands—most recently The Happy Belly for milk and dairy products and Solimo Coconut Water—will fit into the mix.
  • As it continues to struggle with counterfeit products, Amazon is placing the responsibility on vendors to identify fake listings in their name with an initiative called Project Zero. Currently being expanded from 15 brands in the beta test, Project Zero allows participants to identify fake products or brands themselves (Amazon also gives vendors a unique code for each product they sell that will be cross-checked upon arrival at an Amazon warehouse to ensure authenticity). A rare occurrence in which Amazon relinquishes authority to vendors, it’s yet to be determined whether brands would abuse the powers afforded by Project Zero if it is extended to all sellers on the platform.
  • Aside from counterfeits, Amazon is also encumbered with fake reviews. At the end of February, the FTC successfully fined an Amazon seller, the dietary supplements brand Cure Encapsulations, for publishing unsubstantiated scientific claims about its products and purchasing fake Amazon reviews since approximately October 2014. Amazon hasn’t had much luck enforcing its own reviewer regulations, although in 2015, it sued more than 1,000 freelancers from Fiverr, a freelance marketplace, for allegedly selling fake reviews. Amazon also operates a program called Vine that sends vetted consumers (mostly free) products from brands, which pay the retailer for reviews—a program that comes with its own set of biases.
  • Amazon ditched Dash buttons, which launched in 2015 to let consumers replenish purchases with a click. Dash was commonly used for a variety of home essentials like toilet paper and laundry detergent, which made reordering bulky, but necessary products hyper-convenient—so much so that certain appliance brands began embedding the buttons into their machines, which automatically reorder when supplies runs low. While critics have argued that Dash breaches consumer protection laws, the discontinuation is tied to the rise of Echo speakers with the Alexa voice assistant, which have cannibalized the Dash program through their own frictionless reordering capabilities.
  • Amazon launched Amazon Day, which permits Prime members to identify the day of the week when they want to receive all of their orders for the past seven days. It’s pitched to consumers as an added convenience, but it’s also a way to reduce Amazon’s carbon footprint and shipping costs. But as Amazon is synonymous with fast shipping and there is no monetary reward provided to shoppers for using Amazon Day, it’s unclear how the initiative will catch on.
  • Amazon extended its marketing business to AmazonFresh. Brands that are sold in AmazonFresh can buy ads that are featured in both Amazon and AmazonFresh’s search results, as well as product detail pages. The ads will only be visible to customers shopping in areas in the U.S. where AmazonFresh is offered (a handful of cities), but it’s just the latest measure Amazon has enacted to growing its burgeoning ad business.